New ITC Trade Report Shows How Dangerous TPP Is for America’s Families

Celeste Drake

Celeste Drake AFL-CIO

Last week, the U.S. International Trade Commission published a damning report about the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade and economic agreement between the United States and 11 other countries. The report predicts the TPP will increase the job-killing U.S. trade deficit by a whopping $21.7 billion. 

By law, the ITC must write a report evaluating the likely economic impacts of proposed trade deals. But the economic model the ITC uses generally produces overoptimistic and incorrect predictions, such as that wages would grow for U.S., Canadian and Mexican workers under the North American Free Trade Agreement and that the U.S. trade balance with Korea would improve under the U.S.–Korea FTA. These predictions were way off base. NAFTA suppressed wages for workers in all three countries and the U.S. trade deficit with Korea has skyrocketed.

The bad report on the TPP is made even scarier by knowing the ITC’s record. It means that the TPP is not just a bad deal, but it's also dangerous for working families and the U.S. economy as a whole.

Here are five of the most disturbing findings (all comparisons are to a world without the TPP in 15 years):

  1. U.S. manufacturing output will decrease by almost $11 billion and manufacturing employment will go down .2%.
  2. U.S. auto parts output will decrease by $1.4 billion and auto parts sector employment will fall by .3%.
  3. U.S. services exports (a supposed “strength” of the U.S. economy) will be $2.2 billion less than services imports.
  4. Job losses also are projected in sectors including forestry, coal, oil, gas, textiles, transportation, logistics, electronic equipment, tourism and recreation. Two of the hardest hit sectors for job losses are titanium products and leather goods.
  5. Despite all these losses, the overall U.S. economy is expected to grow—by a mere .15%! That’s basically a rounding error.

And remember these are the optimistic figures. The reality is far scarier for working parents with children to feed or students hoping to pay off student loans. In truth, the promised benefits of TPP probably won’t even add up enough to recover the costs of flying negotiators all over the world for five years to negotiate this secret deal behind closed doors.

So, let’s get this straight: lower manufacturing output, worse trade deficit, jobs losses in key sectors, secret negotiations—and global businesses love it?  There’s something fishy here. Why would anyone who cares about working people support the TPP? They better not. Working families are watching.

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Reposted from the AFL-CIO.

Posted In: Allied Approaches

Union Matters

Uber Drivers Deserve Legal Rights and Protections

By Kathleen Mackey
USW Intern

In an advisory memo released May 14, the U.S. labor board general counsel’s office stated that Uber drivers are not employees for the purposes of federal labor laws.

Their stance holds that workers for companies like Uber are not included in federal protections for workplace organizing activities, which means the labor board is effectively denying Uber drivers the benefits of forming or joining unions.

Simply stating that Uber drivers are just gig workers does not suddenly undo the unjust working conditions that all workers potentially face, such as wage theft, dangerous working conditions and  job insecurity. These challenges are ever-present, only now Uber drivers are facing them without the protection or resources they deserve. 

The labor board’s May statement even seems to contradict an Obama-era National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruling that couriers for Postmates, a job very similar to Uber drivers’, are legal employees.

However, the Department of Labor has now stated that such gig workers are simply independent contractors, meaning that they are not entitled to minimum wages or overtime pay.

While being unable to unionize limits these workers’ ability to fight for improved pay and working conditions, independent contractors can still make strides forward by organizing, explained executive director of New York Taxi Workers Alliance Bhairavi Desai.

“We can’t depend solely on the law or the courts to stop worker exploitation. We can only rely on the steadfast militancy of workers who are rising up everywhere,” Desai said in a statement. 

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